Sunday service 13 June – Do not sell your birthright

Introduction Sibongiseni Khumalo

We greet you wherever you are, and we thank the Lord for opportunities to sit at His feet. Although we are only a few in this building, it is wonderful to know that the brethren are listening in from different areas. It is a comfort that the leader of the mission, Reverend Stegen, is with us in heart. We are assured of the prayers of older workers.

Dietmar Joosten

Farmers plant crops to reap the best harvest. Similarly in God’s kingdom, you want His work to be strengthened and to grow. There are times when I preach but I do not have to prepare the service – others do it for me. What you will hear this morning was presented to me. I am reminded of the little boy who brought just fish and loaves and the Lord blessed it. It is good to work together. If you think you can go it alone, you are on the wrong track. When blacks and whites work together, there is a blessing, especially if an elderly person brings bread and fish and says that they have something for you, your heart should jump with joy. Do not despise what is brought to you.

If you love someone, would it be enough to only express it in words, or would you bring the person something as a gesture of your love?  When last did you give something to our father who was obedient, and the mission was formed? When last did you give Rev Stegen something to express your love for him? When last did you bake him a cake? When last did you do something for your parents? Your mother runs up and down while you sit as a queen or king. This is not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. “I love my mother, I love my aunt,” you say but do you love them with your mouth only? The first fruits always belong to the Lord - the eldest, the first-born belonged to the Lord. When it comes to the end of the month, what belongs to the Lord? Christians like talking, but when you see what they do you wonder where they get all the talking from.

Do something for the person that you say you love. Put it into action. If you do it because you must, it will not be a blessing, it must come from the heart. If you do something because you are forced, it is not worth doing it, but if it comes from a heart overflowing with thankfulness then the Lord will look on it favourably.

When last did you write a letter to Rev Stegen? Not a long letter, just something short to say how it is going. We must think about these things. When last did you take your parents to a restaurant? It must be like this in our lives. You do not know how long they will still live. Be kind and obedient, but also do things for them.

Genesis 25 is the text that someone gave me, and I would like to share it with you. It is a difficult passage to talk about. Read it at home and find out more about it - there is so much you can learn. It is also a very difficult passage to grasp. It is the story of Esau. I may never have chosen this word. When I was young there were texts in the Bible that I feared. They often caused great struggles within me because I feared the meaning and application of the texts. When I opened my Bible, I feared to open to these texts (this was not the only one) because I would apply it to myself. God’s word is sometimes - I would not like to say hard - but it shakes you to the innermost being. I do not understand why people question having a counsellor. Throughout history people have needed somebody to help them. The Bible says that we need to carry one another’s burdens. If it had not been for my brother, Kjell Olsen, I do not know what would have become of me? There are people who think they are like Esau. (If you think you’re like him, then it usually is not you). It is the person who is arrogant, the one who does not care, the one who is the dangerous one; however, the one who is sensitive, who cries and often asks himself the question, is it me – no, it not you. I used to be troubled in this way. However, I can now speak about this word this morning because I am no longer troubled by it.

 29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.[e]) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:29-34

29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. This reminds me of Samson who was also faint, and was constantly troubled by Delilah who nagged him about the source of his strength and in the end gave in. This is on the same level. It is very dangerous to be ridden by sin to the point that you let go and give in. It is dangerous to be driven by lust and then let go.

30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.[e]) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” The firstborn had rights. God has given the firstborn rights.

32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

This last sentence gives one insight into who Esau was. He despised that Gospel. He did not value its importance. He scorned it. That was Esau’s heart. A birthright belonged to the eldest. He would often get a double portion of the inheritance and he played an important role in the family. Although this law was written, God often God took a different route. King David was the youngest of seven brothers. He was the man in the fields. There was the eldest brother, but God chose the youngest because He saw his heart. Judah was not the eldest son; he was the third eldest. God said that the sceptre would not be taken from him. He was the important one because God had seen his heart. Do not hold onto the fact: because I am the eldest, I am the most important. This does not work in God’s kingdom. Girls would not inherit anything, but there was one man who cut across all of this - Job. Job’s daughters inherited exactly what his sons did. He was influenced by the Lord to do it that way. If you hang onto your position or who you are, you are fighting a losing battle. God will take something and do it with the very person whom you despise.

(Those who have left the mission have serious issues with the black people. It is a privilege - and may we never lose it - to work together. Why? God has worked through them, and it is a privilege and a blessing to work with those whom God chose.)

Our birthright is Jesus Christ, it is heaven. All of us are first born, God is not partial, we are all the same in His eyes, we are all treated in the same way, He died in the same way for all of us.

Isaac and Rebekah could not have children, then Isaac prayed. Things sometimes happen in our lives to bring us to our knees, otherwise we may not pray such prayers and seek God in such ways if we did not have a specific problem. Children, learn that from a young age. When you meet with difficulties – people speak badly about you, or they bully you – whatever it is, seek the Lord in prayer. Then Rebekah fell pregnant, but she felt something abnormal, so she went to the Lord. (The Lord allowed the bush to burn so that man would stop and go aside). Rebekah stopped and prayed, and God gave her a secret. Whether she handled things correctly or incorrectly, we will possibly not understand but God was over all. Why did she handle things in this manner? Because a secret was revealed to her. We might understand this one day, if we need to. God spoke to her concerning the children in her womb.

Rebekah loved Jacob. Isaac loved Esau. What influence this might have had, I do not know, but obviously the children were aware of this. Parents must realise the damage that can be done if they are partial and not fair to every child.

But God allowed it to happen, and it is written in the Bible. Esau was a hunter who prepared food for his father. Jacob stayed at home and was taught by his mother. Mothers, you have a few ‘Jacobs’, do you treat them with the heavenly mystery? Esau knew what his father loved.

One day after hunting he returned home tired. He was at his end. He must have been hungry. It is impossible to imagine that you can return to your parents’ home and there is not food. There must have been food in the home. But the circumstances happened in this way, this time and in this situation. Everything worked together to bring to light what was in Esau’s heart. In our lives there are situations where you wonder why things happen, but through them God brings to light what is in your heart. It is grace if a person can receive this, work on it and ask God to change it.

Esau went to Jacob to see what he was doing and then he said, “Jacob, please man, give me of this pottage, this red lentil stew…” It was a specific colour and it had a specific description. Esau was hairy and reddish. His name even meant red. Esau saw the red stew. This is fascinating. Friends, that which is in your heart you will always see. If your heart is red, you will see what is red. If your heart is pink, you will see pink. You will see things in that colour. You may not recognise it but others who stand around see it. “That girl is immoral,” you say. Why? You might be like that. “That boy thinks he is handsome because of the way in which he walks,” you say. You think you are beautiful which is why you see that in the next person. “Look at the way he steals…” you say. Your heart is that of a thief which is why you only see thieves. Ask yourself why you always see that. Esau saw red, he saw this red food. He saw it and longed for it. You look at things, you see that they are evil, but you read them for the second or third time because in your heart is that filth.

Your human appetite destroys your life and the lives of people around you. It might be jealousy in your heart that sees the wrong in others. The jealousy in your heart makes you see other people who are jealous. Stop and see what is going on. Rebekah ran to God and asked, “God, what is going on in my heart?”

Job said that he would keep his eyes from looking at a virgin - looking at ladies and ladies looking at men and boys. He said that he would keep his eyes pure. Esau’s eyes were different. Job also said that a man’s heart walks after his own eyes. What your eyes perceive is how you think and judge things. …if my step has turned aside from the way and my heart has gone after my eyes…Job 31:7 If you serve your own belly, your own desires, your own inclinations and your own gratifications and if that is what drives you, you will surely be punished. If we deny ourselves and listen, if we forget ourselves and put that on the altar, you will break the force of the temptation. Esau saw this food and desired. Samson desired women and in the end, he lost his strength. You can lust after many things: worldly wealth, worldly things, worldly clothing - if your eyes are fed by that and it controls you, you will lose your birthright.

Jacob saw his chance. The brothers knew each other. They must have talked but this was possibly not the first time this topic was mentioned. Jacob knew his brother’s shortcomings. Esau took the food. How long did it take him to eat? 5 -10 minutes. He stood up and left. This was such a short time of his life but in a fraction, he gave away the most important thing! His attitude was: What is it to me? I have a life to live. I do not even know if I will reach the age of inheritance. He despised what was to become his. Jacob wanted this with all his heart. This is what he yearned for. Esau did not care. He despised it. There was no remorse. He stood up and left as if to say, “Does it really matter? Is it really important. So what?” This is the point to which the devil wants to get us: it is not so bad. It is not the end of the world. It is just a small thing. It is just a feeling I had. You get up and leave, not realising that there is poison in your life!

Jacob had a yearning - that which Esau had, he wanted. The most important thing in your life. That for which I have been created. Is that your desire? Is that what God desires for your life? You should cry to God and say that is what you want. Wrestle with Him as Jacob did and say, “Lord, that is what I need in my life.”

You can say that it was only words but in heaven it was recorded. It was recorded! What you think also gets recorded which is why it is so important that we live in the light as the Bible says. It does not matter what people say out there – we must live our life in that light. Have you got a heart like Jacob that wants to hold onto what God has revealed to you - many years ago possibly, when you realised that this is the Gospel you had searched for your entire life or have you discarded it and in a moment it is gone?

Jacob had possibly been ‘fishing’ for some time. There must have been conversations about this topic, but the day came when the dam wall broke and this was that day. It did not happen in an instant. This thing must have built up and built up. God saw the heart of Esau which is why He said that there was something wrong with Esau. The Bible says that God hated Esau. Esau possibly did not deal with things while they were small. He despised them and looked down on them - which was possibly the beginning of the end. We can get used to things that slowly but surely build up. God speaks to you and warns you until the day that the dam wall breaks. You say, “No, no, I’m not selling my birthright, not at all. I don’t want to deny the Lord Jesus Christ, I won’t do that, I won’t sell my birthright.” But every day we make a choice. Which way do we want to go? Instead of being productive, using your time for the Lord, you waste your time with your own things and your own business. You say, “I won’t be like Esau…” Look at yourself yesterday, possibly things have changed, they are not the same, something else has entered and you are prepared to sell that which the Lord has for you. Others have traded what the Lord had for them for money or for business which is their goal in life. They lose that birth right because of their own appetite. Someone stands on your toes and you react. In your reaction you sell that thing which should be important to you. The manner in which you stand in front of that mirror and prepare yourself for the day, there is a way you want to look. It is the way you want people to perceive you, who you are, the way you act. You say, “I don’t want to be like Esau…” but in that moment you are in danger of becoming like that. Things start small in your heart. Your eyes look at yourself in the mirror, and you wonder how the world would look at you. The way you look at yourself in front of the mirror and the time you spend there shows that there is something in your heart. You see the red pottage, the red lentil stew which is why you walk like that. People can see that there is a worm inside of you. Get rid of that worm. It will eat you from the inside and finish you off.

The enemy of your soul wants to rob you of that birthright. Will you allow him because of pottage that lasts for 5 minutes? Couples do what they should not do for 20 minutes. Would you sell your birthright for that? Is that pure and honest? But you say that you are not like Esau. That was Esau’s problem.

16 That no one may become guilty of sexual vice or become a profane (godless and sacrilegious) person as Esau did, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. (AMPC) Hebrews 12:16

This text gives us a picture of who Esau was: 1.…that no one will become guilty of sexual vice… 2. profane, godless person like Esau.

You may be visited at night by an evil spirit. (There are many things white people are ignorant about which is why God put us together. There is no force as strong as this unity) It is possible that Esau did not live a clean, pure life, which is why he sold his birth right. This was not the end. If you want to repent, do it properly. Peter cried and totally repented. Judas thought he was on the right side, fighting the good fight - but in the end he saw that he was on the losing end. Esau did not repent like Peter did.

34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter[f] for Isaac and Rebekah. Genesis 26:34,35 These women made life bitter and brought grief of mind and spirit to Isaac and Rebekah. This was part and parcel of his problem. These two women were descendants of Ishmael. Ishmael was said to be the owner of the birthright but God changed that. These are the people that Esau married. The person you marry will influence your life more than you can imagine. You just see a beautiful peach and “Wow, that’s now the one.” You pray, but with an open eye. Remember that you will live with that person who will one day have a greater influence on you than you could ever have imagined. What happened to Solomon? If one woman is so bad, how much more 300? It is nearly impossible, humanly speaking. You have no chance, have you? It is difficult for a man to stay on track if the person next to him is not spiritual. Blessed is that man, blessed is that man, who has a wife who will pull him up and forward. What a gift, what grace.

When the children are young, everything often seems alright and things are beautiful, until the day they need to get married. Then many things come to the fore which they were not even aware were in their hearts. Children are so beautiful and agreeable but the day they get married, the father becomes nothing anymore. Their father or mother no longer matter. Why? It was in your heart from the beginning. You say, “I don’t listen to my parents anymore now that I am married.” The Bible does not say that you can despise your mother because of your husband. The blessing will lie with your parents. Esau or Jacob would have received their blessing from their father. Then you blame your parents for failures saying, “I have failed in my marriage because of my childhood, my parents were too strict, that is why I am like this.” Blaming your parents is an old trick of the devil.

The longest chapter in Genesis tells about Abraham looking for a wife for his son. Abraham understood that if he took a woman from the outside for Isaac, that would be the end of his family - as it was with Esau.

You might be the one who blames your parents, but they have done things for you that no other parent would have done. This is an old trick. No wonder you hate your parents because of that birthright which is in them.

Esau sold his birth right and then married women he knew his parents would not like. This broke their hearts. Isaac and Rebekah did not give up. They knew that God was in control of everything. But Jacob, because of his heart’s desire, even with his mistakes yearned for the living God and he grew from strength to strength.

John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress because of what he had experienced. He thought he had come to the end, but he wrote the book because he was upright in his desire to serve the Lord and God blessed him.

You want to sell the Lord Jesus, your birthright, because of someone else or because of the lust or evil driving you?

Esau did not consider his future. He only looked at the present. Jacob, however, saw the future. He saw that God had something and that he had been chosen by God. He grasped that, even though Satan came with storms. Jacob looked at tomorrow and saw that God needed him, God would bless him, and he held onto that and grew by God’s grace. That is why we can never say, “I’ve sold my birthright.” You may have made a mistake, but you can bring it to the light by God’s grace, repent of it and never do it again.

Take care. Something small can enter. Someone may break something of yours and you get angry. You rebuke someone who might be innocent. Be on your guard before you sell your birthright. Esau sought it back with tears because he thought it was his by right. What entered his heart? Bitterness and hatred. This comes from taking things lightly. It is easy to give up and lay aside that which God has for you. God did not stop working in Jacob’s life either. God cornered him and Jacob knew that he needed God. If God did not help him, his brother would kill him. God intervened because Jacob sought Him and went deeper with Him.

The world wants to force the church to sell its birthright. There are laws being made across the world that aim to make the church like any other organisation. The enemy is at its worst when he can get Christians against each other. He will use divisions to rob God’s church of its rightful birthright - which is to preach the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ as it stands in the Bible.

Do not take this lightly. We have reached a stage where Satan wishes to rob us of that which God can do for us. Satan wants us to sell our birthright. He wants the church to be just the same as everyone else.

The devil is trying to make us nominal Christians who do not live according to the word of God. In China Christians must register their churches with the government or be imprisoned. The government wants to control the church and set the rules and laws of how to serve God and what to preach.